Wednesday 23 February 2022

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth | Book Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Borough Press
Publication date: 17th February 2022

"BROOKHANTS SCHOOL FOR GIRLS: Infamous site of a series of tragic deaths over a hundred years ago. Soon to be the subject of a controversial horror movie about the rumoured ‘Brookhants curse’:

In the early 1900’s, Brookhants students Flo and Clara fell madly in love, brought together by their obsession for a scandalous memoir.

A few months later they were found dead in the woods, after a horrific wasp attack, the book lying next to their intertwined bodies.

Three more grisly deaths followed before the school was forced to close.

Now, the school’s doors are open once more. But as the crew of glamorous young actresses assemble to start filming, past and present begin to blur. And soon it’s impossible to tell quite where the curse ends and Hollywood begins…"

I went into Plain Bad Heroines completely blind. Yes, I'd read the synopsis but made a decision not to read any reviews and I'm glad I didn't. I thought it would be a lot more historical fiction-y (a genre I don't read a lot of!) but I was pleasantly surprised.

The story takes place in two main timeframes but have a recurring theme running throughout.

Firstly, back in 1902 at Brookhants School for Girls in Rhode Island, Flo Hartshorn and Clara Broward are in love. They also have a bit of an obsession with a book 'The Story of Mary MacLane' and start up the Plain Bad Heroine Society. One day, they are both found dead in the woods, clearly stung to death by a swarm of yellow jackets, The Story Of Mary MacLane by their sides. Flo and Clara aren't the only ones to die with the book next to them...

In present day, Merritt Emmons has written a book about what happened at Brookhants which is now being adapted for a movie (The Happenings At Brookhants) starring popular actress Harper Harper and actress and daughter of a 80s scream queen, Audrey Wells. But the yellow jackets weren't left in 1902.

I was a bit nervous going into Plain Bad Heroines simply because it is such a big book at 620 pages. I worried that maybe I would lose interest but the story was just so enthralling that I didn't want to put it down.

The writing style is fantastic. I loved the hilarious unknown narrator who included footnotes for us, the Reader.

The scenes in 1902 feel very gothic and atmospheric. This book had some really great queer representation. There isn't a single straight relationship in it. There are parallels, for example Clara being judged for being a lesbian back then and Harper's grandparents giving her an ultimatum while under their roof in 2009. It shows that there still can be (completely unjustified) issues in this day and age.

All in all, Plain Bad Heroines is one I would definitely recommend to keep you gripped.


A massive thank you to the Harper Fiction Team for having me on the blog tour. You can find the information for the other bloggers taking part in this tour in the graphic below.

Sunday 13 February 2022

The House Of Ashes by Stuart Neville | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The House Of Ashes by Stuart Neville
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Zaffre
Publication date: 3rd February 2022

For Sara Keane, it was supposed to be a second chance. A new country. A new house. A new beginning with her husband Damien.

Then came the knock on the door.

Elderly Mary Jackson can't understand why Sara and her husband are living in her home. She remembers the fire, and the house burning down. But she also remembers the children. The children who need her, whom she must protect.

'The children will find you,' she tells Sara, because Mary knows she needs help too. Sara soon becomes obsessed with what happened in that house nearly sixty years ago - the tragic, bloody night her husband never intended for her to discover. And Mary - silent for six decades - is finally ready to tell her story...

Oh wow, I loved this book so much. I am from Belfast so I love reading novels that are set in Northern Ireland. They just feel so familiar to me.

Sara Keane, originally from Bath, moves back to Northern Ireland with her husband Damien after his father Francie Keane manages to buy them 'The Ashes', a house with a lot of land. It was bought outright and has no mortgage so Sara in understandably wary. 

One day, an elderly, dishevelled woman named Mary turns up at the house claiming that it is hers. Damien very quickly apologises to Sara and says she has run away from the care home and he will take her back. Sara questions him about the whole situation but he is very standoffish and vague.

The book is told mostly from the points of view of Sara, currently living in The Ashes and of Mary from when she was a child and living there also. Mary was locked away in a basement with Mummy Joy and Mummy Noreen and they were forced to work on the farm and cook for Daddy Ivan, Daddy Tam and Daddy George.

Mary's chapters are heartbreaking, knowing what the women went through at the hands of the three farmers and I loved the way that it is written in a colloquial style. There are massive parallels with Mary's life under these men and Sara's life now with her controlling husband.

Sara tries to learn as much as she can about what happened at the house that she is now living in. 

Thoroughly recommend - it had me gripped!


A massive thank you to Compulsive Readers for having me on the blog tour. You can find the information for the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below. 

Tuesday 8 February 2022

Evidence Of The Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Evidence Of The Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Amazon
Publication date: 20th September 2018

Dear stranger…

A desperate young woman in Southern California sits down to write a letter to a man she’s never met—a choice that will forever change both their lives.

My heart goes out to you, David. Even though I do not know you…

The correspondence between Carrie Allsop and David Mayer reveals, piece by piece, the painful details of a devastating affair between their spouses. With each commiserating scratch of the pen, they confess their fears and bare their souls. They share the bewilderment over how things went so wrong and come to wonder where to go from here.

Told entirely through the letters of two comforting strangers and those of two illicit lovers, Evidence of the Affair explores the complex nature of the heart. And ultimately, for one woman, how liberating it can be when it’s broken.

For a short story at only 86 pages long, this one really packs a punch.

Evidence of the Affair is written in letter form. Carrie Allsop discovers that her husband Ken is having an affair with a woman named Janet after she finds letters from Janet in Ken's briefcase. Carrie then writes to David Mayer, Janet's husband, informing him of what she has found and asks him to look out for any letters from Ken because she wants to understand why he has decided to have an affair.

Carrie and David continue the letters, even meeting up in person as they only have each other and understand what the other is going through. 

The letters are heartwrenching, they have juxtaposed lives and Carrie sees herself as not enough for Ken. 

A beautiful read and I will definitely push the Taylor Jenkins Reid books that I have on my TBR up!

Friday 4 February 2022

Sea State by J. M. Simpson | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received an ebook copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Sea State by J. M. Simpson 
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Independently published
Publication date: 21st November 2021

Jesse Stevens needs to escape her past, start a new life and feel safe.

The rugged coastline and tight-knit community of Castleby offers her that chance. Her new job with the local lifeboat crew gives her the stability and comfort she craves. Her skipper, Doug Brodie, faces his own demons. He is struggling with survivor’s guilt, physical and mental scars, and a marriage teetering on the brink.

Jesse is desperate to put aside the dark nightmares and terrible memories. As she and Doug grow closer, she wonders whether she can ever really live a normal life and be happy. But Jesse is in grave danger. Someone is watching her; trying to control and manipulate her life. Someone plans to make her life a living nightmare and return her to the hell she thought she had left behind. Will she ever be free?

Sea State draws you in with a really strong prologue. We read about a woman being attacked which automatically makes you want to read on and see what on earth is happening.

The story then splits into the points of view of two main characters. We learn that the woman in question is Jesse Stevens. She had been beaten badly by her police officer ex-boyfriend Chris and left in a pretty bad way. In order to get past her ordeal, she moves to Castleby and attends therapy.

Doug works for the RNLI in Castleby and has two children with wife Claire. Two of his crew mates and best friends die in a shout with Doug himself being injured. He struggles with this fact as he believes that his orders led to his friends deaths.

The two stories merge together when Jesse joins the RNLI as a mechanic for the boats but someone is following her and is desperate to get to her.

There is a lot to unpack with this book and a lot of storylines packed in but it never gets confusing and flows well. I loved the rescue scenes and I honestly learned a lot about what the RNLI do. 

The thrill is there are you are dying to know who is watching Jesse and why and I was genuinely surprised by the ending!


A massive thank you to Literally PR for having me on the blog tour. You can find the information for the other bloggers who are taking part in the tour in the graphic below.